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SNAPSHOT 214: 1908 Argus Limousine

So often, captions in early motoring magazines give very little away, and under this picture we had no more clues to the exact model of this magnificent Argus limousine than the single word (in German) “six-cylinder”.

The Argus Motoren Gesellschaft m. b. H. was a German company that developed and manufactured motor vehicles and, perhaps with even more renown, engines for vehicles, boats and aircraft.  It was based in Berlin-Reinickendorf.

Argus was founded in 1901 by Henri Jeannin as the Internationale Automobil-Zentrale Jeannin & Co, initially to import Panhards from France.  In 1902 the company started making its own cars, at first with Panhard engines and other components, but in 1903 began to develop and make its own engines: a 2,380cc 12PS 2-cylinder, a 4,960cc 20PS 4-cyclinder and a 9,260cc 40PS 4-cylinder.  There is no information about the size of the six-cylinder that powered the car in our Snapshot, but we know that from 1906 Argus built trucks with various engine sizes, the largest of which was rated at 70PS and claimed to be the first six-cylinder engine installed in a commercial vehicle.  Could this be the powerplant of the limousine?

The company changed its name in 1904 to Argus Motoren-Gesellschaft Jeannin & Co. and then in 1906 to Argus Motoren-Gesellschaft m.b..  In 1906 Jeannin left Argus and set up the Sun car company with his brother Emil.  The Argus company continued to make cars until 1910 and even competed in motor sport, including the Herkomer Trial.

The Argus car was said to have been sold in England under the name Beaufort, from premises near Baker Street in London, but these English cars appear to have had very different engines from those sold in Germany, and were supposed to be made in Baden, a location that appears nowhere in early Argus history – and so the link between Beaufort and Argus is perhaps doubtful.

After development of engines for a French airship in 1906, the Argus company moved increasingly towards engine manufacture, including series-built aero engines, highly effective motorboat engines and, in 1912, the engines for the world’s first four-engined aircraft, built by Sikorski.  Argus returned to the field of motor vehicles in 1929, when it manufactured straight-eight engines for Horch.


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